Title: The Werewolves of London

Rating: Hard R (violence, swearing, gore, & gratuitous Dean and Sam whumpage)

Genre: Season 1-ish, Gen

Summary: A hunt has the boys returning to Chicago, going toe to toe with a pack of entrepreneuring lycans, and finding out that the steel forests of America are home to more than they bargained for when staying alive means breaking a deal with an unforgiving power.

Really Huge Author's Note: First, this is a fic started almost six months ago that recently grew some legs thanks to bigpink's recent fic jump-starting my brain. Thanks, dear, and I hope you enjoy.

Koyote's a goddess of the beta variety. Sarah of the supportive, awesome friend and best reader variety.

I wanted to write a gritty, urban, dark fic, drawing the boys out of the small towns of mid-America we're used to seeing them in. And I also wanted to explore more of the These Crimes of Illusion "universe" without writing a strictly fae-centric story. This is considered that fic's sequel, but having read that story isn't necessary at all.


The Werewolves of London

I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
And his hair was perfect
Ah-oo, Werewolves of London
Draw blood

- Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London

Prologue.
- Now -

It's all dark color and cold breezes, leaves rustling in the wind creating white noise only a forest can appreciate. The whooshing moves through the forest preserve, tunneling through trees and brush, passing wild animals and forgotten items cast away. Must hangs in the air, dirt and decaying leaves on the ground that haven't seen sunlight for months; twigs crunch under their feet, snapping like necks in rapid succession as they race through the trees toward that overpowering scent.

Blood. Sweat. Fear.

They feed off it, draw it in like gray mist, follow it with beating hearts and deep hunger. They need it. It flows through crusted nostrils, down to panting throats and sticks to the tongue. Teasing. Feeding. Keeping them motivated, alive, until they can reach the source.

They're parched. Denied what they need, what their instincts tell them to catch, saved by a figure covered in dark shadows, blackness, evil, who promises feeding beyond their dreams. Victims -- meals -- served on a silver platter.

Or, in their case, an old, withering Oak near the east edge of the forest preserve.

He varies their locations, though, when he can. Gives them the thrill of the hunt, lets the wind ruffle through their fur, whip past their long ears. The hunt. The kill. Their minds work in that order. Nothing else. No mercy, no morals. Just finding their next meal and enjoying the feeling of teeth sinking into warm flesh, blood dripping down their snouts, until there is nothing left but white bones.

Gleaming, beautiful white bones bleached the color of the moon by their saliva.

Leaves rustle under their paws. The smell is stronger now, intense, and some struggle to stay steady under its influence. So strong. The blood will flow, the skin will stretch against their bites. They feel it.

Moonlight shines like a spotlight -- they're there. The entire area is clogged with the overpowering scent of blood, and they move slowly now, creeping up to the figure tied to the tree, hanging there, ready for them. A few feel it is beneath them, to hunt a piece of meat hung up for them, but food is scarce, and they can't risk exposure. Yes. This deal benefits both parties through compromise.

The leader rounds the tree, putting an experimental paw over the line drawn in dead leaves, and feels nothing. It's safe. He didn't go back on his word.

They round the tree, a semi-circle of growling mouths and barred teeth, staring at the man hanging from the tree. Savor the scent for a few more seconds before jumping on the prey.

But their prey's eyes snap open, and a sly smile crosses pale lips.

"Only five of you?" he rasps. "C'mon. I've dealt with worse."

The leader jumps forward, but the prey is faster, pulling up on the bonds looped over the lowest branch to flip up onto it. He lies on his stomach, cries out. Their blood pumps faster, this is a hunt. Blood drips down from the branch above, falling on their fur, matting it, until they can stand it no longer.

They jump. The prey swears and scoots father, farther, blood leaking from a wound in his stomach.

This prey will be sweet between their teeth. When they catch him.

Part One.
- Before -

Chapter One.

"And you made fun of my coffee?"

Sam Winchester slips into an empty chair at a table nestled in the corner of the café and snickers; his brother slides into the chair across from him and spreads the paper out across the table with nothing more than a sneer in his direction. Sam sips on his coffee and attempts to read upside down, but gets caught up on the word "difficulty" -- how's that for irony -- and gives up.

"Seriously, man. I never figured you for a mocha guy," he tries again.

There's a rustle of a page turning, then Dean Winchester glances up at Sam and punctuates his sentence with a point of his finger. "Hey, shut your pie hole. Sometimes a guy just has a sweet tooth." He returns his attention to the paper, but Sam isn't going to let this one go.

"You give me shit every time we get coffee -- "

"What you drink isn't coffee," Dean interrupts flawlessly.

"-- and here you are drinking a mocha. With skim milk."

"They were out of regular," Dean defends. "Plus, it's better for my figure."

Sam laughs. "Right. You're a freak, you know that?"

The pages rustle again; Dean continues onto the smaller stories pushed to the back of the newspaper, red pen poised in his right hand, ready to strike at anything out of the ordinary. He flicks the end of the pen towards Sam while green eyes scan back and forth across the page.

"Takes one to know one."

Sam snorts, but wonders when he became comfortable with being labeled as a freak after fighting against it for so long back in college. Two steps forward, three steps back, and now he's sitting at a table in a café debating the finer points of "freakishness" with his brother. Perhaps it's learning from example; Dean's self-proclamation of his own status as less-than-normal had finally gotten through Sam's shell and parked itself right next to normal under the birch tree he'd sat under with Jess between classes.

He sips his coffee and ruminates over that while Dean circles stories with that red pen, wide, unclosed circles like their lives, surrounding things they should never see; leaving an opening to escape they'll never take. A few catch Dean's attention on one page; he flips to the next, finger from his other hand holding his place, and starts over, scanning through obituaries.

"Anything interesting?" Sam asks when his cup's half-empty -- or half-full? He doesn't know anymore.

Dean looks up after circling a few obituaries, a flick of hazel eyes that raise his forehead. "Eh, a few hauntings, some deaths in Massachusetts that look odd, but," -- he shrugs -- "they're just unsolved."

"So, nothing, then."

"Nope." Dean takes a sip of his mocha and makes a face before holding it out in front of him and examining the cup. "Uug. How can you stand this crap?"

"It's an acquired taste."

"And what?" he asks, giving it another experimental taste before putting it down on the table. "They give you a course at college?"

"You can only drink straight coffee so many late nights in a row," Sam replies. Dean shakes his head and stands, chair pushing out behind him with a screech of metal against flooring.

"That is totally not true. Want it?"

Sam takes the cup. "Yeah. I'll drink it in the car."

Dean mutters something that sounds a lot like 'pussy' while walking to the counter; Sam resists the temptation to throw an insult back. Dean's left the newspaper open on the table along with the pen, and ever since Sam can remember, he's always thought anything his brother does is cool, even now. He snatches up the paper and the pen, holds it just as Dean does, and starts skimming.

Three stories later, the paper's snatched up from under his bowed head and hits him on the nose.

"You do the research, I read the paper," Dean says, resettling the paper while drinking a cup of regular, dark coffee.

"Look on page 8," Sam replies, ignoring the jab. Of course they have clearly defined roles, and you don't cross that line. "Police found a collection of bleached -- "

"Bones," Dean interrupts. "I can read, Sam."

"Could have fooled me."

Dean growls, but keeps his eyes on the paper. "Huh."

"What?"

"Dating has these bones as less than six months old." Dean points to the paper, and Sam leans over the table to attempt reading upside down again. "Pop quiz: what bleaches bones at the time of death?"

Sam groans this time, and shakes his head while wearing an incredulous smile. "No. We're not ready to take on something like this without dad."

"And here I never thought I'd hear you say that."

"Everyone has their limits, Dean, even us."

"You don't think we can take this on?" Dean asks, leaning over the paper, elbows crinkling it. "C'mon, Sammy. With all we've done already? Should be a piece of cake."

"This isn't some backwater town in the middle of nowhere we can lie our way into; there's a reason Dad kept us away from big cities. There are too many people around who can ask questions," Sam says, shaking his head. "Not to mention the cops aren't apt to listen to our cause."

"Apt?" Dean repeats with a smirk. Sam opens his mouth to explain his reasoning but Dean cuts him off with a crisp single shake. "Less likely? Hell, no, but last time I checked, these things didn't have to live somewhere where it's easy to hunt them. Making our lives easier isn't something they strive to do, Sam. "

Arguing philosophically isn't in his brother's make-up, and Sam sighs, dropping his head into his hand. Sideways, Dean doesn't look half as mean as he tries to, that sharp gaze almost lost from the angle Sam's looking at him from. He appears, for a moment, just as tired as Sam feels, and adjusts his mask to compensate for Sam's new perspective.

They both know this isn't something they can just walk away from, and if it weren't for the growing body count, Sam would be for leaving this to someone else out there with the same unmarketable talents as them.

That is, if there were any. But then, wouldn't they have the same preoccupation about working and hunting in a city as him? Were those attacked by creatures lurking in the shadows of tall buildings in urban sprawls just damned to such a worrisome existence? People in cities died every day; by man or beast, did it really matter?

Sam snorts, if only in his head; of course not. Police could hunt men, but what of those things they couldn't - or didn't want to - explain? Wasn't that their job, what they were raised to do?

In the end, didn't responsibility in any form just suck? There was still a bit of fatalistic twenty-something sensibility in him, despite how aged by what he'd seen and experienced might have aged him.

"Hey, lighten up," says Dean, idly stirring his coffee with one of those wooden sticks he'd once used, in a bind, to take out a particularly nasty spirit form a few years past. "We've worked that city before; should be a piece of cake if we still have those polyester uniforms you picked up for us last time we were there."

"Just because you and Dad didn't use them doesn't mean disguises aren't useful," Sam intones.

"No," Dean almost groans, "Just stupid-looking. You're the dork, not me," he says, pointing between them at the table. "So why do I have to wear the outfits?"

Sam smirks. "Because not ever con artist can be as flattering as you."

"Damn straight. You ought to keep that in mind."

"Lycans are never a piece of cake," Sam points out. "Even for dad. Do I need to remind you where you got that scar on your calf?"

"I know how I got it. I was twelve. I'd like to think I've grown up since then."

Sam laughs, causing his brother to frown.

"What?"

"Dean, you have the maturity of a fourteen year old."

"Do not."

But the way he says it is like a kid, and Sam remembers that sometimes, he's the older one in this relationship. "Whatever, man. We're not taking it."

Dean's a stubborn man, has been since he turned six and his little brother was suddenly old enough to steal his toys. He hasn't changed much over the years, so when he stands and pulls his jacket off the back of the chair, Sam's not so much surprised as annoyed.

"Dean..."

"Daylight's a-wasting, Sam. Move it or lose it."

--

Twenty miles outside Philadelphia, Sam starts staring at the mountains in the distance. They're colored green by thick, lush evergreens, their colors spanning all variations he can think of, some dipping into the sun for pale golds, or dark browns where trees have died and only the thick trunk remains. He spies for shifts in the leaves, clearings where they shouldn't be -- anything out of the ordinary in the way fear distorts shadows and converts sounds.

Not that he's afraid.

It's not classic fear, not fear of the unknown, or fear of a creature he's never seen. Lycanthropes don't frighten Sam, per se. He is frightened, instead, by the idea of going in on this one without enough experience, of facing something they shouldn't be without a few more months on the road, a little more time with successful hunts, less bruises and blood.

The mountains give no indication as to if shape shifting animals are lurking in the forests, and it almost angers him.

But it's misdirected anger. Dean's thick-headed decision only proves Sam's theory that his older brother's constantly trying to prove himself -- to himself, to Sam, to their father, to the world in general. If he fights enough, kills enough, perhaps the darkness will retreat and give a moment of sunshine.

Humans can't live without sunlight.

"We're going to be fine," Dean says out of the blue. He pulls down his visor and shifts it against the window to block out the dying sun, and Sam sighs to himself; if there was one human on the planet trying to prove sunlight wasn't important to life, it would be his brother.

"Nothing to worry about, right? We'll just go in, take care of the problem, and, what? Hope we get out of there alive?" Sam shakes his head. "You do remember that lycanthropy is infectious, right?"

"Yeah. Remember how we found out?"

"That's why I don't get this, Dean." He is used to his brother making sense, at least in some warped, twisted way he can figure out a few seconds after his brain revolts against the lack of logic. Aren't they supposed to work together, decide together which jobs to take and which to pass on?

"What's there to get?" Dean asks, chancing a side-glance at Sam before turning his eyes back to the winding interstate. "These things are out there killing people, and the cops aren't going to figure it out. Usual gig. Except these, we know how to hunt and kill."

It's the same speech Sam gets whenever he questions the motives behind choosing a particular hunt, driving east instead of west where he knows their father is waiting. Dean's nobility is admirable, but Sam finds himself trailing behind when it comes to hunting for the sake of others. To him, the hunt is a simple connect-the-dots game between Point A, the here and now, and Point B, the death of the demon who's killed too many important people in his life.

With Dean, he's taking serpentine turns to all points in-between, looping up and around and down and back again to touch upon the straight line before veering off again. Sam lives for those glimpses of the line he feels compelled to follow.

But this hunt's way off near Point Z, where they have no business to go. It's so far off the map, they're driving blind, navigating canyons when they should be on hills.

"Even if the cops take away their hunting ground," Dean continues suddenly, softer, more reflective than before when his voice carried that authoritative edge learned from their father, "they'll move on. Go somewhere else and start hunting again. Or maybe they'll resort to mauling."

"As revenge against the humans for forcing them out," Sam fills in the blank.

"Bingo."

He can't find an argument against going; people will continue to die unless the lycanthropes are stopped, and when they've found a prosperous and secluded area, that only happens by force.

Dean guns the engine and races faster down the open road. The hills surrounding them feel like they're watching the black car as it speeds towards its destination with giant eyes of green and brown.

--

Driving anywhere from 18 to 24 hours straight through the night isn't considered odd, at least in their family. Dean's practically mastered the art of driving without so much as a bathroom break, surviving on a steady diet of sugar and coffee and loud, speaker-busting rock from before either of them were born. After months of cruising America in the passenger seat of his brother's car, Sam's mastered his own art; he lets his head fall in the now-familiar groove between the door and the seat and watches the scenery fly by. Counts the poles beside the road, the seconds between each, and practices his rusty math skills by trying to compute how fast they're going, and what the fine would be if Dean got a ticket.

When the sun sets in front of them, a mixture of pinks and oranges and just a hint of flaming red, he gives up his game and returns to the world as best he can in the blanketing wrap of the Impala; memories written on every inch of the interior, and twice in some places. The satellite card for his laptop was a good investment; while Dean drums his heart out on the steering wheel, Sam looks up the biggest newspapers in Chicago and a few national publications for good measure and begins to read.

Ever since he could read, Sam's love of all things strange and bloody has been restricted to one place - fiction. At ten, he was the youngest patron of the local library's true crime section, and he often finds escape in the crimes of the normal world. He speaks to them, hears them talk back when he scoffs at a witness's terror when the killer was only a man and not a monster. It has desensitized him to the goriness of the research he's been doing since the rest of his family realized he's steadier with words and research then a crossbow (though he's certainly worked on improving his marksmanship ever since Dean teased him about being a useless giant). Reading through the newspaper articles sooths him just as the music vibrating the car brings a sort of serene comfort to Dean as he drives.

The first he finds is the original article summarized in the USA Today he read at the coffee place back in Pennsylvania. Angela Ashbury, 26, found dead in her apartment two days after last being seen at her job on the city's north side. She was only identifiable by dental records, as her body had completely disappeared, leaving only a neat pile of bleached bones in the center of her studio apartment. The police, as expected, are completely baffled what could possibly bleach human bones and completely dissolve all the tissue connected to them without leaving a trace in the apartment. Theories of how the killer moved chemicals and storage containers in and out without being seen or heard are driving the investigation. Dean is right - no way they'd think of Lycanthropes and their acidic saliva.

Which leaves this up to them. Not that Sam will admit that.

The next, calling the string of deaths the 'White Murders' because of the clean bones, was of 24 year old Aaron Haskle, a student at one of the South Loop's many colleges and universities. Body found in an alleyway under the city's elevated train lines. At first, they were thought to be the picked over remains from one of the nearby restaurants. The poor and homeless often hang around in the area due to the high population of naive college students. It was only after a member of the crime scene unit identified one of the bones as a fibula that dental records were referenced and the bones declared as those of the missing student.

"Huh," he mutters. It doesn't make any sense. The two victims lived ten miles apart - lycans typically stuck to a small area, and in a city as densely populated as Chicago, Illinois, there wouldn't be a need for them to spread out in order to find new kills.

"What?" Dean asks over the music. Sam reaches forward and turns it down before explaining.

"I've only read over two so far," he starts, the glow from his laptop lighting his face and reflection in the dark windshield. "But they were over five miles apart. You ever heard of a pack moving that much just for --"

"Only when there weren't many people around. But hell, Chicago's huge." He doesn't readjust the music; eyes straight ahead, but only seeing the road through the haze of thought. "Either someone's telling them what to do --"

"Not good," Sam interrupts.

" - or they've gotten smart."

"Really not good. Still think this is something we can handle on our own?" Sam says.

His brother smirks. "Course. Can't let them get ahead of the learning curve or whatever it is. Damn, will you look at that."

Sam shuts the laptop on his lap and looks up. Coming in from the south, along 1-94, up into the city is a breathtaking view in the clear calm of late winter. The haze of overcast clouds has cleared, for once, affording a clear view of the cloister of tall buildings marking the Loop, lit with colored antennas thumbing at the sky. Atop the Sears Tower, twin antennas that send out most of the city's radio and television signals still wear lights of red and green, leftovers from a warm Christmas season.

"Forgot how nice civilization could look," Dean comments almost wistfully.

While Sam has no memories of their life in Lawrence, he can appreciate Dean's connection between a city and normal, regular life; living under the shadow of Kansas City, so close the two cities blend together, has left marks he never considered.

The Interstate merges together with local by-passes and arteries into the city. Large blocks of chipped concrete sitting behind orange mesh fences mark off the work zones on either side of redirected traffic. There are no workers this late at night, though their trucks sit in a cluster off to the right near the sign marking the city's official boundary. Large lights sit on uneven pieces NX of road, cords waiting to be plugged in. Chicago lives for rush hour, and while traffic flows somewhat slowly, it's nothing compared to the congestion that will come with the first burst of early-morning commuters in a few hours. Work on the roads is done by spotlight, and they begin to flick on the further they get into the city.

"Where was the first attack?" Dean asks, all business. The radio's off now, along with the finger tapping Dean does when passing the time. He takes a swig of coffee -- three hours old and ice cold -- and affords Sam a glance.

"North side, the neighborhood's called Ravenswood," reports Sam. Dean nods. "And the second, south, right?"

"Thinking the middle somewhere?" Sam intones, picking up on Dean's train of thought.

"As long as it's not that dump we stayed in last time," jokes Dean, but there's an involuntary shiver under all that sarcasm and bravado, the memory of their last visit to the city not one either would like to re-hash, especially the fight heard round the world once safely outside the city limits.

There are numerous hotels and motels within the city of Chicago, and several outside the limits that boast cheaper rooms, but they're all the same no matter where you go. The road twists into the Loop, so Dean pulls off to the left and follows the road, deciding someplace off the old road connecting Chicago to Milwaukee, US 41, would be a good place to find a motel that didn't ask many questions.

The sign says weekly rates and free color TV, a place card that probably hasn't been replaced for at least ten years, but it serves their purpose.

In and out. The city makes Dean's skin crawl, and he doesn't want to be there any longer than he has to.

--

Fresh blood.

There is no mistaking the enticing aroma of bitter copper mixed with the sweetness of palpable adrenaline; the way it mixes with the blood pumping though the veins of prey -- there are no words, at least not in the language of men -- it's almost erotic, awakening all senses and pulling from them a pleasure felt only when fucking; and even then, the scent of sweat mucks everything up. But sweet, fresh blood, a gleaming red waterfall splashing from the still-pumping veins of swollen meat…

Thinking of it brings moans of pleasure from his throat, deep, guttural, animal moans; his back arches from the plush velvet chair, eyes closed against muted lights, thoughts controlling his body. There's a shift deep inside; his eyes pop open, wide, dark pupils dilated against rings of gold. So close, he came so close to losing control ...

A hand bushes his shoulder. "Thinking too hard, Erick?" Plopping down on the edge of the loveseat next to him, Nicolas looks smug, long, thin mouth pulled up into a sneer Erick finds horribly enticing, and he looks away before Nicolas can pull him into his bed again. Once was -- he could lose it again recalling those memories.

Nicolas laughs.

"Shut the fuck up," Erick tries in his angriest voice. It causes Nicolas to laugh harder; Erick isn't a dominant, isn't the one who controls but the one controlled.

"Oh, Erick," he coos, sliding over onto the arm of the velvet chair, a hand around Erick's shoulders before he can react. "Your time will come."

"Sure," he scoffs.

Nicolas grabs his face and turns him towards him. "It will. Sooner than you think." His voice is soft, intimate, and Erick doesn't defend or back up when Nicolas moves in to capture his lips in a soft kiss.

It doesn't beat the arousal of fresh blood, but it comes close.

Nicolas is dark and smooth, soft, and fits perfectly with Erick's need for tenderness over a pure fuck. It's how he became such a submissive to Nicolas; the first time he saw him outside in the park, paws covered in the hardening dark red of spent blood, the scent of a kill in the air, he walked up and laid down, riding the waves of acceptance while they changed to men and back to beast under the piercing light of the full moon.

Now, in the corner of Nicolas's nightclub near the shaking L tracks, he looks for a mate to ease his troubled senses. Nightmares drove him from his bed, dark shadows and worn faces of men he knows will bring only blood -- blood of his kind, of the lycans -- and he knew these take out those predictive dreams, those, like the one of his mother's death at the hand of what he'd become, that will come to pass. While he'd been sitting there, waiting for Nicolas to return from a hunt, Erick debated telling him; he had been close to a solution when the smell of blood fresh from a hunt had interrupted his thoughts. But hadn't Nicolas done so much for him? Saved him from a life as an outcast, confused about his place in the world? Showed him who he was and what he was capable of? Didn't he deserve to know?

Yes.

When Erick pulls away, Nicolas recoils, hurt. Erick reaches out to him, grasps his hands and slides off the chair to kneel at his feet. "No, don't look hurt," he pleads, "I just need to tell you something. Promise you won't hate me."

"I could never hate you," Nicolas says.

Erick takes a deep breath. "My dream," he says with wavering confidence.

"My dream showed men coming to kill us. Men who know what we are, who believe as so many do not, of our existence. Nicolas, I don't want to die. I don't want things to change. I couldn't bear being out there without you."

Soft shock covers Nicolas's features, and he kneels to look Erick in the eyes. "What do you mean, your dreams, Erick? Do they come true?"

A soft nod, as if he were capable of anything harsh or sharp. "Yes. Always. And I'm afraid this one will, too."

There's a shift, rustling of covers, snorted snore. Erick looks up at the ceiling, eyes wide. "Nicolas, they can see us. Now, they can see -- "